Judge in Michael Rosfeld case orders release of contempt hearing transcript
The judge presiding over the Michael Rosfeld case ruled Friday that the court must release a transcript of a contempt hearing last week for the defense attorney representing the East Pittsburgh police officer accused of homicide for shooting and killing an unarmed black teenager in June.
The Jan. 3 contempt hearing for attorney Patrick Thomassey was a closed-door hearing that the Tribune-Review was barred from observing.
Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge Alexander Bicket noted in court that he denied prosecutors’ request to hold Thomassey in contempt.
That request stemmed from something Thomassey said in court that prosecutors believed violated the gag order placed on those involved in the case.
The Pittsburgh-Post Gazette and WPXI-TV filed motions to intervene, arguing that court proceedings are presumed open by the U.S. and Pennsylvania constitutions.
Assistant District Attorney Kevin McCarthy argued that releasing the transcript would further the original issue of not discussing the case until it goes to trial.
“To discuss it further in public compounds the problem,” he said.
Rosfeld, a former East Pittsburgh police officer, is charged with homicide in the June 19 shooting of 17-year-old Antwon Rose II.
Thomassey argued that releasing the transcript will draw more publicity. He previously filed a motion to bring in an outside jury for Rosfeld’s homicide trial, arguing that media coverage has made it impossible for his client to receive a fair trial. Bicket has not yet ruled on that motion.
Though arguing against releasing the transcript, Thomassey complained that the closed hearing and the gag order have kept him from defending himself. He said the district attorney’s request to hold him in contempt was slanderous.
“I can’t defend myself in public,” he said Friday.
Thomassey filed a motion earlier this week seeking to unseal some piece of grand jury testimony, with the District Attorney’s Office then moved to be placed under seal. Thomassey said it’s as though he has to “try this case in a broom closet.”
The court reporter has 10 days to provide the transcript.
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.